Puppies for Sale

The ad read “Puppies for Sale … six of ‘em. Shih Tzu-poodle mix … four males, two females …adorable little fur balls.” We phoned the breeder, got directions, hopped into the car and drove to see a half-dozen yapping, snapping, six-week old puppies. As walked to the door, my wife cautioned me that we were just there to look. At $200 a pop for a mixed breed dog, it might not be the best deal we could find.
I liked them all; but a feisty little brown guy caught my eye. Then there was the little black one. The owner said the little black one was very people friendly and quite the snuggler. That cinched it. I begged to but them both, but my wife insisted that one was enough. On the way home, we named the little black guy Rudy … Rudy guy.
Rudy had his first meal at his new home in the middle of our den … on the carpet, in front of all the people. Not in the kitchen where he would have to eat alone. At bedtime, I placed a cardboard box on the floor by our bed. We placed warm covers, a small battery-powered radio and a stuffed sock-toy to keep him company. But before the lights were out, Rudy was in the bed with us, prancing around, gnawing at the covers and giving us puppy licks. All night long, he stayed in the middle. All night long, my wife pushed me away fearing that I would roll over and smash the little guy.
Now most of the pups I’ve taken-in kept everyone awake for a night or two. I guess they missed their mama and their furry siblings ‘cause they’d cry and howl to beat the band. However, Rudy didn’t make a sound all night long. When I awoke the next morning, I was startled to find him still in the middle … lying on his back … being very, very still. Too still. Almost in a panic, I called his name and scratched his stomach. He gave a big doggy yawn and started to stir. Our life with Rudy Guy had begun.
As a puppy, he was a happy handful. Barely eight weeks old, he’d come flying into the den from the porch, leap over the back of my easy chair and land in my lap. This was followed by “zoomers and circling,” through the den, across the entry hall, into the living room and back. Facing the challenge of the stairs to the second floor, he found he could do “ups” right away; “downs” were awkward and took a while to learn.
As his second Christmas rolled-around, we bought a couple of toys just for him. One, a stuffed gorilla, proved to be a riot. None of us new that the toy made a gorilla-type sound when someone pressed a spot on its belly. Rudy tossed his gorilla into the air, pounced on it and tossed it again. It started hollering “aaea, aaea, aaea.” He backed-off, looked at it, looked at me, got down on his front feet and started barking. Later he grabbed it in his mouth, shook it and took off! He always had a Christmas toy or two. We’d place them under the tree in gift bags with tissue paper over the top. While he left them alone until Christmas morning, on December 25, he seemed to know they were his to open. His antics were fun to watch – especially for us.
Rudy accompanied us on every possible outing. Even though I once caught his nose in the power window, he loved to ride in the car – face against the window, looking outside for other dogs.
In those days, my hobby and my passion was private flying. Flying in our little 4-place airplane was a diversion that Rudy Guy quickly learned to enjoy. The little guy loved spending Saturdays with me in the hangar. After sniffing the floor for contraband, he’d climb in and curl up in the front seat of the airplane while I vacuumed, cleaned and spit-polished the outside.
When we took the airplane out for a spin, he would sit either in Valerie’s lap or in mine, and never let out a peep. However, if I adjusted the throttle and caused the pitch of the engine to change, he would bolt upright and look out the window as if to say, “Alright now, what’s going on?” On take-offs and landings as well, Rudy gave full attention to what was going on outside the airplane.
Rudy was a frequent visitor to my office and he quickly became the unofficial company mascot. Seems my business cohorts got a big kick out of Rudy Guy. Especially when he’d sit up and dance on his back legs … especially when he took off running from one end of a long hall to the other then crashed out-of-control as he tried to stop on a freshly waxed tile floor. Yep, the little twelve-pound mutt some folks called the “dancing dog” won the hearts of all that knew him.
Age has a way of simplifying one’s life. And as my life got simpler, so did Rudy’s. One day I sold my business and the airplane. I took new job working for someone else and we moved from northeast Atlanta to a lake community 30 miles north of the city. A small, electric-powered pontoon boat replaced the airplane and after a few trips around the lake, Rudy decided he liked boating almost as much as he did the riding in the airplane. He’d watch the geese and the ducks and bark at the dogs on the other boats.
Once I retired for good, old Rudy Guy went with me to get the car serviced, to the barbershop, the Post Office and to the bank – where he always got a treat. (Dog biscuits from the drive-up teller were far superior to those we had at home.)
Whenever I pushed my buggy loaded with groceries toward the car parked in front the Publix Market, I’d see his shaggy head pop-up over the front seat as he looked around for me. After a busy day taking four steps to my every one, he still claimed the middle of the bed.
That little black dog was my best pal in the entire world. When he turned fourteen, I noticed he slept a little more and played a little less. Thunder and other loud noises seemed to bother him less. However, when he played, he played hard. I’d toss his fuzzy ball down the hall and he’d give chase – time after time. If I asked him if he wanted to “G-O,” he would snap to attention, race me to the back door and stand like a Marine beneath the harness and leash that hung on a nail in the garage.
I’ll admit that tried to overlook the fact that Rudy was growing old. He was 76 by in human years. Perhaps way down deep, I knew that heartbreak was waiting just around the corner. But I preferred thinking that like a child, Rudy would be with me forever.
Then one day it happened. While leaping into bed, Rudy fell and fractured his leg. Since surgery required an orthopedic specialist, our vet could only stabilize the fracture and gave him a pain patch. While we waited for an opening in the schedule, for two nights I slept with him on the floor and did my best to comfort him and keep him still. A few days later, Rudy Guy went under the knife. The surgeon discovered that the break was a pathological fracture caused by a malignant tumor on the bone that wasn’t visible on the x-rays. It had weakened the bone structure. Even if they set the fracture and pinned the bone back together, another break was eminent. My choices were to amputate his leg and treat him with chemo, or to put him down. The decision tugged at my heart as nothing else ever had. But I couldn’t put my little Rudy Guy through any more pain and suffering.
For almost fifteen years, it had been Rudy and me. That little black dog was my constant companion. My sidekick …my buddy. It’ll soon be three years since he left my side. The tears have subsided. We have the ‘boyz’ – two Bichons named Buster and Zachary — but they’ll always be a place in my heart for the dancing dog.

Ronald from GA